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a disordered imagination, for new discoveries of divine truth, or a deeper insight into the sacred writings; while the earnestness and the depth of their conviction has procured them a few disciples, who contrasted their zeal with the indifference of many around them, and felt that any opinion maintained with sincerity upon the solemn subject of eternity was wiser than no opinion at all. Still, the folly of minutely characterising these, would be as great as that of keeping a regular register of the sayings and tenets of Bedlam, and arranging its inmates with a scrupulous classification of their respective opinions and systems. Many of these heresies consist merely in the exaggeration of some particular truth. No positive error is brought forward, but many great and useful truths are neglected, and the whole system of belief is out of proportion; still, this is no further heresy than what inevitably proceeds from an imperfect acquaintance with the truth. A very great number of these pretended heresies consist in differences too minute to be perceived by the naked eye, and can be seen only through the microscope of sectarianism. That they do differ from other Christians is but too evident; but why they differ, would require the subtle genius of Thomas Aquinas satisfactorily to account for. Let but the Holy Spirit breathe upon our souls, and the Sun of Righteousness arise without a cloud, and all these differences will disappear as speedily as the morning mists. IV. Many of the present disputes and peculiarities in religion arise from the turn of the public mind, more than ever averse to severe thought or patient examination. Man has been defined a thinking animal, but real and severe thought is not common in any age of the world. The public mind, however, is more capable of following a train of thoughts at one time than another. At present a variety of pursuits distract the attention from steadily fixing on any one. A variety of popular publications, written with little talent or power, produce no spirit-stirring effect upon the reader; the languid curiosity is easily gratified, and information, such as it is, is presented almost before it is required, and passes from the eye or ear to the tongue, without rousing the understanding from its slumber. In education, all difficulties are purposely removed, as if difficulty were not necessary for exertion, and exertion for strength; and the maxim of the heathen moralist is forgotten, that the gods sell all things, and that labour is the price which they demand. It may easily be supposed that the religious world partake of the character of the age in which they live, and labour under greater disadvantages, for they have the same temptations to a frivolous turn of mind, with the additional listlessness of not having the same variety of pursuits and objects. Their chief reading consists in a number of ephemeral publications, whose only excellence very frequently consists in their piety; all whose sayings have long been said before, and where an original thought would be as beautiful and unexpected as a pellucid lake among the dry and barren sands of Arabia. It is not surprising that the minds which are nourished by such writings should have little taste or appetite for perusing the Scriptures, and should feel themselves bewildered in the midst of one of Paul's epistles, with the magnificent bursts of his imagination, and the fervid and consecutive energy of his arguments. W. While artificial systems of theology are generally disused, the Scriptures are rather studied in detached parts than as a whole. The present age exults in its freedom from the trammels of ancient authority, but is more quick-sighted to discover the blemishes than the excellencies of its predecessors. The systems of artificial theology have their uses as well as their disadvantages; they indeed exaggerated and displaced several Scriptural truths, and gave to others a speculative air rather than their true and practical bearing, but they had a great superiority over the partial induction not unfrequent in our time, which selects passages here and there out of Scripture, and accommodates them to its own pleasure, instead of submitting to be guided by the whole scope of Scripture. On the contrary, the artificial systems excelled in fulness; it was not a portion, but the whole of Scripture, that they brought into their method, and every doctrine had a place in their arrangement, though these doctrines might have been more simply and Scripturally expressed, and have observed more exactly the natural order of the Bible. The only advantage of giving up these ancient bodies of divinity is, that they should make way for the study of the Scriptures as a whole, and that we should drink the waters of life more freshly from their fountain. But they had better have been retained, if nothing was to succeed them but the detached and scattered study of the Scriptures in detail, and the collection of a few picked and favourite texts to support some particular dogma. The great danger now is, that many truths should be omitted, and that one or two topics should be insisted on in the forgetfulness of all the rest; and that to occupy the blank thus occasioned, these few topics should be stretched far beyond their just dimensions; as in the old maps of Africa, the names of a few insignificant tribes on the coast were made the denominations of mighty empires, and concealed the map-maker's ignorance of that unknown continent, by stretching far beyond their proper bounds into the interior of the country. These, however, are the evils of a state of transition. In the great change which has taken

place, the old authority is discarded, before the new authority is properly recognised. It is necessary to have some system. The law of continuity prevails every where, and if, in throwing off the artificial systems of theology, we do not follow the natural system of the Scriptures, we shall unawares follow a system of our own, and that in all probability a very pitiful one. WI. The Scriptures are the guide of life. At whatever point we depart from them, we fall into some diversity of error. Even those who are most occupied about religion; who are seeking for its comforts, and who know that it is the great object here below; yet if their eye be not kept steadily all the while upon the Scriptures, are very apt to make to themselves, in part at least, a religion of their own. There are many passages in the lives of decidedly pious people, which are lauded by their biographers, and viewed with complacency by themselves, which yet receive little countenance from the Bible; frames and feelings which have more connection with the body than with the mind; enjoyments and depressions, advancements and obstacles, which have more reference to peculiar opinions and imaginary excellence, than to the unchangeable nature of divine truth, or conformity to the character of divine holiness. We must repeat, that it is comfort, and not truth, which many regard, and that feeling is too frequently

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